They met at a motorcycle event. She had arrived on the back of her best girlfriend’s bike, and he had ridden in convoy with his friend and some of his bike club. Their meeting was probably pre-ordained; they were both lonely and they were both different and wildly eccentric.
She was from Leicester, and he lived in an affluent part of Gloucestershire. They made a distinctly odd couple and nobody expected it to last – not least because he was so solitary and quiet and she was gregarious and loud. He was happy to stay home listening to music and she liked to get drunk and party. Drink was her demon, which she desperately tried to save herself from, and he was all but teetotal.
She came to live with him, and began work in a nursing home – displaying a unique dedication and desire to nurture. She said she had always wanted children, and this was her way of dealing with the fact that it had never happened for her. Caring was in her very nature, in her blood and heart and soul. It was what she was made for.
So, in spite of the meltdowns, the bad moods, the quick temper and the idiosyncracies that come with being on the spectrum, she stayed – and she loved him completely, without judgement or prejudice. She remained devoted even when he shouted at her, because she knew that she wasn’t the true reason that he was on edge. He was autistic.
Autistic or not, he was her man and she was going to love him until the day she died. Through hell and high water, no matter what; nothing was coming between her love for him and their togetherness.
The man she loved was my awkward, eccentric, somewhat reclusive but good-hearted father, and she kept her promise to love him until the end of her days.
My stepmother – a big-hearted woman who always meant well and had the most amazing capacity for love, compassion and acceptance that I have ever witnessed in any one person – suffered a massive stroke on Monday whilst she was gardening and my father was out of the house. She died in hospital yesterday, aged just fifty-five. As much as she fought her demons, they were ultimately the death of her. She never woke up, and so there was no pain. She deserved for it to be peaceful, and she slipped into a coma yesterday afternoon shortly before her passing.
She was a good woman, a rare breed. She had her problems like anybody else, but she was made of pure love and compassion.
And she loved a man with autism. That is her legacy. She showed one solitary, eccentric man that he didn’t have to be an outcast; that he is loveable still.
RIP good lady. Thank you for loving my Dad, just the way he is.